Rare, it is, for me to rip something off in just a few minutes and get the response yesterday's post, "Wow" ,did from you guys. I have to share one of them with you, as it goes beyond the ascerbic wit of most, and de;ves into the combined farce and tragedy that has become America.
The stereotypical buffoon from Alice's Restaurant, Officer Obie, is today armed with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of high tech gear, machinery, and weapons, but has yet to evolve the intelligence to use them.
"Not having a clue" has not, and seemingly never will, stop those with a badge and an attitude from pressing forward in their quest to become the private American citizen's worst enemy.
I have mentioned my friend of many years, Robert Singleton, several times in these babblings. Here is his experience with "Justice" in America:
These texts are excerpts from an unpublished manuscript. However, the entire manuscript can be found on my website. "Until I Become Light." The documentary film by the same name is based on the manuscript.
When he came home after the first hospital stay he was a mere shadow of his former self. Still very sick. Only a few days passed and he was running another fever and uncontrolled throwing up. In the middle of the night I took him back to the hospital. This happened repeatedly. The doctor decided to stock us with a lateral pharmacy of as needed drugs, primarily for nausea. The nausea impart, resulted from the regiment of toxic AIDS related drugs, AZT to name just one. We had heard and read from many sources that marijuana was a known panacea for many AIDS related problems, such as nausea, appetite, head aches and anxiety. On one office visit with his doctor we asked about the possibility of having marijuana prescribed legally.
Dr. Malot said that it could be obtained legally but the bureaucratic red tape was so involved, "The stacks of forms and applications was so time consuming," he felt this was intentional in order to discourage doctors from making application at all. He concluded the conversation saying to Steven, "If I did try, because of the time it would take," he paused "You won't live that long."
Desperate people do desperate things. It was at this time a choice was made to acquire the drug illegally or grow it. Both was done, but I ask you to consider if you had the same options what would you do? On my part, the choice was out of desperation and compassion, anything that would help alleviate Steven's suffering. I can honestly say that the drug helped in controlling the many side effects of both the treatments and the illness itself. As a result, for Steven, the quality of his life was tolerable and most important, with dignity. I must stress this was not a result of just the marihuana. The drug was used only when needed. What was so important to Steven was being in control of his life, free to make choices that affected that life. I do not believe anyone has the right to control or tell a terminally ill person what is right or wrong for their life. As Steven would say, "Whose life is it anyway?". If I acted out of conscience then it is my conscience that sees the apathy of a political system willing to allow its terminally ill citizens to suffer needlessly, all in the name of what is "politically correct".August 10, 1993
I was again sitting on the porch with Bear, relaxed by the tranquility of a summer afternoon, having a glass of iced tea. From the porch I could see the hill and the Hickory tree, reminders of memories. Two years ago Steven sat here before me. I wanted to return to the past, but all I had were reflections, daydreaming about happier times. I was still in a daze, not at all thinking clearly. As I was sitting there, I heard way off in the distance, the muted sound of a helicopter. I scanned my eyes across the distant mountains. There it was, just a tiny speck. I watched the movement and listened as both almost faded. My mind moved back to mousing about Steven. But then, the sound of the helicopter came back, only this time it was loud and getting louder. Even Bear became alarmed. I stood up and walked to the back of the porch, in the direction the sound was coming from. Like a giant specter with deafening sound, this enormous military helicopter rose up out of the valley behind the house and hovered above me and the tree tops. I stood there watching with amazement. Looking up at people in the helicopter looking down at me. Why was this happening? I thought, oh it’s one of those commercial photographers taking an ariel photograph of the house and then they will try and sell it to me. No, I looked down onto the steps coming up on to the porch. There amongst the potted Geraniums were several small, skinny, half dead potted marijuana plant. Standing there looking at the source of a thundering sound, I did not know what to do.
The helicopter started to move off toward the front of the house, out of sight. I panicked and out of the most basic instinct for survival hastily sniped off the plants and put then in a trash can. Bear and I then walked to the front of the house to the sight of this thunder from hell, landing. The Hickory tree was twisting and bending from the wind as the helicopter landed on that hill, on hollowed ground.
This gray haired old man and his Cocker Spaniel stood there and watched in disbelief as State Police and National Guardsmen ran, bearing weapons, wearing battle fatigues, stormed us and our home. (Please . . . laugh with me, this was such a ludicrous and outlandish picture.)
When they reached Bear and me, I greeted the State Police lieutenant whom I had known socially for years. He did not answer me as I followed all to the back of the house and the steps to the porch. Then he said, "Alright Robert, where are they?" I said in the trash can. I asked the lieutenant if we could please go in the house because the sound of the helicopter was deafening. Inside he immediately asked if they could search the house without a search warrant. I said of course, "I have nothing to hide." And search they did, leaving nothing unturned. By the time they started searching the studio I was being helpful, opening doors and cabinets.
The Studio was still setup as a chapel from Steven’s funeral. On the Alter was a votive candle burning. Next to it a miniature wooden box containing a few tiny bone chips I had picked up the morning after Steven’s service.
I was in another room, helping, when I heard one of the officers say, "Ah, I found something, I think it’s crack." I walked around the corner to see this person holding the small box and with his finger examining it’s contents. The hair on my neck bristled. "If I were you, I’d put that back . . . right were you found it . . . NOW! You are holding human cremains, not a drug." I felt the sanctity of Steven, our home and the hill had been grossly violated. Steven’s name was never mentioned.
To add insults to injury, I was asked if I was producing porno videos. I had been editing together all the videos I had of Steven as a memorial for his family. The lieutenant stood before the piles of tape and editing equipment. "Are you making a porno film?"
For the first time in my life I was arrested, jailed, finger printed, photographed, and humiliated before the many curious on lookers at the court house. I did call a lawyer who met me at the jail. I would be charged with manufacturing a controlled substance for distribution, a felony. He explained I could have my home and land confiscated, a $50,000 fine and ten years in the penitently.
After a hearing before the magistrate, was released on bail, putting up my home as collateral.
The next day I wrote a letter to my attorney and the prosecuting attorney in my own defense. I also realized that if I told the truth I would be revealing the truth about Steven which I had tried protect. It would also mean for me to "Come Out" to this community. I had nothing to be ashamed of.
August 11, 1993
To Whom It May Concern:
I, Robert Singleton am not a drug dealer, nor have ever been. I am a proponent of the law, and am not a dishonest person nor a threat to society.
I came to West Virginia 15 years ago on a spiritual sojourn earnestly seeking the truth, to try philosophically and theologically to unravel the many questions I had about this journey we call life. As the years have passed and life on this hill have unfolded, I may have found a few answers, one of which is a great respect for the truth, to be honest with one's self and to unconditionally respect my fellow man's truth without judgment.
To me, the law is either black or white. It has to be clear and defined with no ambiguity. However, life is neither black nor white. Life is experienced between the many subtle shades of gray, full of ambiguities. With your indulgence, I would like to tell the truth about the life and death events which culminated on August 10, 1993.
In June of 1988, Steven Russell, a close friend from Florida, came to West Virginia to share life with me in this wonderful, unspoiled sanctuary. We both had our own vocations, he as a photographer and I as a painter. It was a healthy symbiotic relationship. As a result, we both grew in our own independent disciplines.
June 24, 1991 was a black day. Steven was diagnosed with a terminal illness, full blown AIDS. I shall never forget that day. I made a pledge to Steven that I would stay with him and help him with whatever he needed. I would be with him and support him to his death.
As this heinous disease began to take its toll, we began to reach out to the many support systems. You must understand even as I write this letter there is no cure or effective treatment.
The many drugs Steven was prescribed were experimental, all of which were extremely toxic. Many times these drugs would make Steven even sicker. I stayed up many nights as Steven continued to vomit, or try to help him through periods of anxiety and depression which come with any terminal illness.
We had been told many times by the AIDS underground that marihuana would stop the vomiting, increase his appetite and help with his anxiety, even though possession of marihuana was illegal. He was able to procure an amount of marihuana and smoked it. The drug was indeed a panacea, particularly when Steven had to have 21 days of chemotherapy.
Fortunately, he had short periods of total remission. During one of these remissions, he grew a few marihuana plants in order to have it when he needed it. I must stress that these plants were grown for his own use and not for distribution.
The following year there were may medical crises, transporting him to Florida in order to tell his family the truth about his illness. There were many times the plants were left on their own to fend for themselves. My focus was completely on Steven's needs and not the law pertaining to the small amount of marihuana growing on my back porch.
On June 24,1993, Steven passed away after a heroic battle. I was with him and he died with peace in his heart. I know I made a poor judgment, but my judgment in the last weeks has been clouded by Steven's death. There are many things in this house that were Steven's. His clothing, hats, etc. I have not been able to bring myself to put them away or even move them. I am not ready to let him go. Such was the case of the plants. There was no other intent in keeping the plants other than symbolically, the plants were alive, a living presence against the heartbreaking reality that Steven is dead.
If I have committed a crime against society, then all that is right, all that is good, is of no value.
I will not recant the many events that took place before the trial other than I changed lawyers, wrote a brief in my own defense, was asked to give names of "other drug dealers" as an attempt to plea bargain and finally the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor.
There were a number of court dates with me always showing up. On the first trial date my lawyer did not show nor did the "arresting officer." I was there the Judge and the Prosecutor. All present knew that if the proceedings had started without the arresting officer, by law the charges would have been dropped. Neither the Judge nor the Prosecutor volunteered to act on this law.
When the word of this event reached my many friends a chain reaction of letters started arriving to me and the lawyer. All these letters were addressed to the judge as testimonials on my behalf. Although none of these letters, my letters or my brief were ever presented to the Court. Nevertheless, under the stress of that time, for my friends to come to my defense with such fervor, caused me to truly know how blessed I was.
Finally, on my birthday, December 13, 1993, the trial was held with a plea of no contest. The trial was not a trial at all, just a formality. Still, it was unconventional. No one present wanted to be associated with me. Even my lawyer would not sit with me as the proceeding took place. I asked if I could present my case or the stack of letters I had with me. I never uttered one word in my defense. All the terms had been prearranged. I was given a $1000 fine plus ninety days in jail (suspended). One year probation plus $82 court cost. I was told by the Judge that if I broke probation, "You will serve the ninety days in jail."
How and why this happened I will never know. There was one theory based on what eventually happened to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her center. Elisabeth’s life had been threatened, her pet Lama shot and killed and her home burned to the ground. All because of her association with AIDS and gays. There are those who believe what happened to me was an attempt to harass or get me to leave. After all I was queer and probably had AIDS. Elisabeth did close the center and left the area because the State Police and the local Sheriff told her they could no longer be responsible for her safety or life.
Here is the link to the entire book:
Here's a fascinating addenda to the Deep Throat saga: How Deep Throat became Deep Throat: